Tatarchuk Tackles the Tiny Trouble

Business, Government Jun 30, 2010

Build a power supply for a Trident submarine that’s about the size of a briefcase.

“It was a stretch goal,” says Auburn chemical engineer Bruce Tatarchuk. And to do it, he had to create a new material: a substance with high electrical conductivity and high surface area.

“So we were trying to mess around putting wires and fibers in conjunction with activated carbon or powders – they just didn’t mix very well, ’cause they had different densities and different tensile properties,” says Tatarchuk. “We were trying to mix piano wires and wet spaghetti at the same time – they just don’t mix up.” But he figured it out.

He took a slurry of metal fibers 1/50th the diameter of a human hair, sprinkled on some activated charcoal, added a pinch of cellulose – paper – and heated it just right. The metal wires bond and trap the charcoal.

“If you come up with a solution to some problem, it probably has application across many different disciplines, many different markets,” says Tatarchuk. And his microfibrous materials enable chemical reactions and processes to occur far more efficiently than previously imagined or commercially practiced. Those materials are at the heart of electrodes, catalysts, electrocatalysts, sensors, and adsorbents and form the basis of high efficiency filtration systems and new fuel cell technologies.

Current and past government sponsors and collaborating government laboratories include the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Office of Naval Research, and the U.S. Army.

Principal Investigator

Dr. Bruce J. Tatarchuk

Research Interests:

  • Kinetic and mechanistic studies of chemical reactivity at solid surfaces
  • Integrated chemical/energy system architectures with component interdependencies
  • Technology transition, IP generation, patent disclosures, licensing agreements, joint demonstration programs

The AU Center for Microfibrous Materials Manufacturing

Mighty Micro Materials

At Auburn, we’ve developed a platform for producing large-scale samples and development of patented materials. It’s a timely and cost-effective service that we’re able to offer to industry partners.

For more information, please visit our Web site.

Article Tags: ,
No responses yet to “Tatarchuk Tackles the Tiny Trouble”

Leave a Reply